Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Great Communion Celebration -- an example from TEAM mission meeting in Japan

One of Nancy Nethercott’s passions is celebrating Christian communion… she also thrives on planning communion services for both large and small groups. Below is Nancy’s description of the Christ-centered communion service she recently planned for our mission here in Japan.

We had a wonderful morning (final session) on Saturday of our mission annual conference, celebrating communion in a way that made it fresh and memorable. Our theme for the week was from John 10:10 " the Full." So, I had ordered large loaves of light rye bread from the local bakery (Asanoya) which Tom & Nancy Edwards cut it into large chunks. Tom and Nancy also prepared much larger than usual glasses of juice. After a time of worship through music and Scripture, Steve Baughn shared a short devotional. The people came down the center aisle of the chapel to receive the elements and then fanned out around the outer edge of the chapel in a circle holding the elements until we were all served (there were around seventy people in attendance).

Then, Steve broke a large loaf of bread as he said, “The body of Christ given for you;” and poured juice from a large pitcher into a clear glass as he said, “the blood of Christ shed for you; remembering the lavish sacrifice of Christ, partake with thankfulness in your hearts.” We ate and drank for an extended time savoring the "abundance,” and "fullness" of the provision of Jesus Christ - it was quite special. We closed with singing the traditional “Doxology.”

I got many comments afterwards about how meaningful this time of communion was. People entered into singing the songs and seemed to appreciate the "Scripture Tapestry" reading that Karyn, Gerald, and I presented. It was a Scripture reading focusing on Christ (from John 1) with related verses woven in (this reading is from Reformed Worship magazine June 2008 issue, pages 32-33). The larger than usual servings were a visual reminder of just how big and lavish the love of Jesus is.

Instruments included two guitars and one piano -- Mike Gray and Paul Nethercott played guitar with Tim Johnson and Rita Schellenberg taking turns on the piano. Nancy Nethercott, Angie Carter, and Tim Johnson were the lead singers.

Communion Service for TEAM Japan Annual Conference
Karuizawa, Japan August 16, 2008

Order of worship:

Song: Lord, Reign in Me (by Brenton Brown)

Song: Jesus, Hope of the Nations (by Brian Doerksen)

Scripture Tapestry: Read by Nancy Nethercott, Karyn Zaayenga and Gerald May
(This group practiced several times, they were well prepared which was an important aspect of the effectiveness of this reading)

Song: Here I am to worship (by Tim Hughes)

Recognition and prayer for several members of TEAM (this took about 40 minutes)

Song: How Deep the Father’s Love for Us (by Stuart Townend)

Prayer from “The Worship Sourcebook” (based on 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 2:24)

All pray:
Awesome and compassionate God,
you have loved us with unfailing, self-giving mercy,
but we have not loved you.
You constantly call us, but we do not listen.
You ask us to love, but we walk away from neighbors in need,
wrapped in our own concerns.
We condone evil, prejudice, warfare, and greed.
God of grace, as you come to us in mercy,
we repent in spirit and in truth,
admit our sin, and gratefully receive your forgiveness
through Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

Silent Prayer

Hear the good news:
This saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
He himself bore our sins
in his body on the cross,
that we might be dead to sin,
and alive to all that is good.
I affirm to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
you are forgiven.

All: Thanks be to God.

Song: Great is Thy Faithfulness (traditional)

Steve Baughn: Communion Devotional (about ten minutes)

Communion Ceremony

Closing Song: The Doxology (traditional)

NOTE: We used a Power Point presentation that included several photos, the service was on the long side, but it did not seem too long, as everyone in attendance was invested in the TEAM related presentation/prayer for members.

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